Smart home looking a bit stale?
You might not be buying one of these any time soon, but if you're in need of an original eye, take a look at our pick of Show RCA 2018 design and engineering concepts. The projects come from students and graduates at the Royal College of Art/Imperial College London and are on show at London's mammoth art and design showcase until 1 July.
Read this: Five visions for future smart cities
Alongside vehicle design and literally a wearable gill β yes, that's right β we saw plenty of prototypes and videos pertaining to the home and how we live.
Here are some of our favourite ideas on what the connected home could look like in two, five or maybe ten years' time, from smart lights to sleeping buddies to a novel solution for smartphone addicts that might actually work.
A weather-matching smart lamp
This smart lighting concept, by designer and Innovation Design Engineering student Willa Crolius, wants to help us be more connected to the world around us β including the weather. Avast responds to local weather and not in the way you might expect.
Sure, you can set up an IFTTT applet to get your Hue light to turn blue when it starts raining, but Avast will open up to maximise light when it's cloudy and/or raining outside and sink down, closing its "sails" when it's sunny and clear skies outside, encouraging you to get natural sunlight.
Tech treats for smartphone docking
A voice controlled, ambient home can go some way to reducing your smartphone addiction. Matteo Bandi's MA Design Products project Sidekicks goes even further. Each of the objects β a desk lamp, an alarm clock, a projector and a speaker β is built without a power button and certain functions will only work if you leave your smartphone physically docked within the device. Clever.
Each device has a standard function β for periods of high phone usage β and reward functions for low usage, e.g. the projector has space for two phones to be docked simultaneously and can print out cutesy memories as a treat.
A warm and cuddly sleeping companion
Intomacy by Yang Gao, who is on the MA Innovation Design Engineering course, is aimed at long distance couples as well as children getting used to sleeping on their own and patients staying in hospital for treatment. It's an interactive sleeping device with different zones that can be temperature controlled to mimic the body heat of a person in bed next to you.
The device can be remotely controlled via the app or you can synchronise your bedtime routine and spoon up to two paired Intomacy sleeping companions at the same time: "When you find one part of Intomacy is getting warm, you can keep your body there longer to warm your partner or you can quickly move away to see your partner's reaction."
Smart tokens for forgotten groceries
Robert Turner's Ma-to-ken IDE project works with an app that can build up a list of what's in your fridge from your supermarket receipt. Then physical food tokens/discs, which you place on items as you store them, will flash when the vegetables etc need to be used up.
It's a similar idea to Ovie's smart food storage which, as you'll remember, sent some of us into a tizz about chores β but we like the receipt scanning element here, removing some of the hassle of uploading the food data in the first place. As you'd expect, the app is designed to also point you in the direction of recipes you can try with the ingredients you have in stock.
A new spin on home entertaining
Unscene is a collaboration between Helen van Baal and Shankho Chaudhuri (both MA Global Innovation Design students) β it's exploring immersive, augmented entertainment in a space where there's no need for VR headsets.
In order to unlock the narrative (of a character trapped in a grey room) you have to interact with physical objects dotted around the space, much like you would in a video game.
Turning food into bio-products
Not exactly connected but futuristic nonetheless, Jessica Gregory's BiHome project, part of the Global Innovation Design program, is a vision for how we could one day re-use food waste to power biomaterials, grown and processed at home.
It works via bacterial cellulose growth beds and a mycelium incubator, turning the bio-waste into everyday products like tote bags, made from the plastic/foam like material created by the process. The idea is to reduce our negative environmental impact with this alternative to plastic.